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May I verify something with you? It has been said that the somewhat deformed nose of Louis van Gaal, is caused by an incident in a match in the ‘70’s, Antwerp versus Kortijk. It has been said the nose was broken by contact with the Kortrijk goalie. Was that you?
Words by Raoul De Groote
(Dials telephone number. It is answered:)
“Hello, Buysschaert speaking.”
Good afternoon, sir. I am Raoul De Groote of Dutch football magazine Staantribune. Are you Frank Buysschaert, former goalkeeper of Kortrijk?
May I verify something with you? It has been said that the somewhat deformed nose of Louis van Gaal, current manager of Manchester United, is caused by an incident in a match in the ‘70’s, Antwerp versus Kortijk. It has been said the nose was broken by contact with the Kortrijk goalie. Was that you?
(Laughs:) “Yes, yes, that was me! But that was a long time ago, sir! I was only eighteen and just returned after my army duty. Van Gaal was the striker that day. In the second half of the game I came into the pitch, for the first time as goalkeeper in the first team of Kortrijk. It was a friendly, played on a Saturday afternoon. Kortrijk played in the second division of Belgium and Antwerp in the first division. There was a pass and my defenders thought it was offside, but the referee let the game continue. So I punched the ball away, but my elbow touched the nose of Van Gaal. It was a heavy crash.”
And what happened?
“And there was Van Gaal lying on the ground, with a lot of blood. Because, a nose bleeds a lot, you know? I could still see him, lying on the pitch, with his nose broken. They had to carry him away on a stretcher. But hey, I couldn’t help it, sir. It was an accident. The referee also said that to me. It was almost outside the box, so I was afraid to touch the ball with my hands, I HAD to punch it away. But because I was hanging higher than Van Gaal, I landed with my elbow on his nose. And he was running at full speed to head the ball…”
After the incident, did you ever run into each other or did you search for contact with him?
“No. He lives in a different world, you know. Only the performances on the pitch matter and I am just an ordinary, working class man.”
Louis van Gaal also was an ordinary player.
“He used to be an ordinary football player, but now he is a top class manager. If that incident would happen these days, the newspapers would be all over it. Back then it wasn’t important. My career did not last long. I had a five year contract at KV Kortirjk, but after two seasons I had to quit. I was paralyzed and comatose, almost dead by a bacteria in horse manure, which was in a poorly cared knee wound. I lost forty pounds, but I survived. I am now 61 years old and I still do sport: I jump rope and cycle five thousand kilometers a year. But my football career was over. I should have been the successor of Willy Vervaecke, who was the first goalkeeper at Kortijk.”
Willy Vervaecke was on the bench when you crashed with Van Gaal. He told me: “If we would ask Franky in the dressing room to give a demonstration, you saw he was very muscular. He was always working on that. On the website of Bill’s Gym in Kortrijk there is someone named Frank Buysschaert mentioned as a bodybuild champion. Were you a bodybuilder?
“I am a four-time club champion in Kortrijk. But I trained my muscles the natural way, without a doctor, you know, haha. I was a welder, so I made my own machines to fitness at home and train with dumb-bells. When I was a player, I put a record player outside and jumped rope for two hours. I started when I was sixteen. I started playing football at the age of fifteen, but when I was eighteen I reached the first team of Kortrijk.”
With a remarkable debut.
“In my first game in the first team and then that happens…… I was a little upset and shocked about it. With Google I found a copy of a photo of Louis van Gaal as a player. He has a red jersey with ‘Bell’ on it. You can see his nose is flat. When I run into friends on the street, they call me “Little Louie”. They shout: “Hey Little Louie, did you see your mate on telly against Club Bruges?” I have seen the whole match on Tuesday. As a player he dared to confrontate the manager and now he is a manager himself, he is still a special one, isn’t he, haha?”